August 22, 2008
I’ve had a great Olympics so far. I’ve managed to avoid all but the most incidental coverage of the actual “games”; though it hasn’t been easy. I’ve refrained from getting into arguments with patriotic and even downright chauvinist Kiwis about the “funtastic” effort from “our” chaps and chapettes. I’ve even managed to catch up on some classic Star Trek thanks to Moac’s buddy who’s kindly loaned us his prize collector’s edition DVD boxed set.
But it hasn’t been so much fun for the blessed Chinese who thought they were going to get an opportunity to have their complaints heard by a sympathetic and “modernizing” regime. I read today of two grandmothers who’ve been sentenced to “re-education through labour” just for even daring to take the dictators at their word and apply for a protest permit.
The isolent cheek of these two old ladies; don’t they know what’s best for the nation is also best for them.
To top off my week of hilarity, the story of the underage Chinese gymnast is finally getting some well-deserved attention. He Kexin is a plucky young lass who serves as an object lesson to the gruntled grannies. She knows what’s best for everyone is to shut up and play along with the charade.
Ah, the scandal. Gotta love these games.
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August 17, 2008
Regular readers will know that I am avoiding the Olympics. I am staging my own personal protest by boycotting the coverage and taking absolutely no notice of events, or the medal tally. But I’m also looking at non-sport coverage because that’s where the real meaning of the Games is exposed.
Take for example the gushingly OTT coverage of the eating habits of American super-freak swimmer Michael Phelps. Phelps’ intake of 12,000 calories for breakfast each day has been treated as a wonder of science, or as in one of my local papers something to mock and make fun of.
It’s actually my number one Olympic Obscenity of the week. It beats out the 56 fake ethnic groups, bus crashes and repeated screenings of a weighlifter’s busted limbs by a long way. The only thing that comes a close second is the anorexic arrested development of the female gymnasts.
Phelps’ diet would feed the entire Russian female gymnastics team for a week and let’s not (yet) even mention the apocryphal starving children in Africa.
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August 16, 2008
Warning: this post contains some AO language and is not really about taxi drivers at all.
I have a lot of respect for cab drivers. Most of the time they’re really well-educated and they’re all very, very street-smart. Last night I got a ride home with Ahmad. He’s from Afghanistan and he was listening to the BBC World Service.
There were items about the conflict in Georgia and so we got to talking. It was quite funny to realise that my chat with Ahmad was the perfect dessert to my main course argument with my colleague Wayne at the Brooklyn.
Wayne and I had been talking about Russia, Georgia, gangster capitalism, transnationals and failed or failing states. Ahmad segued straight into that line of thinking off the back of the World Service reports from Georgia. Ahmad has been all over the world. He thinks the Russians are crazy and hates the American presence in his homeland. There’s a nice, balanced logic to his position and I’m instantly drawn to a stranger who’s making my journey smooth on a soggy Auckland night.
My conversations with Wayne and Ahmad led to this little tome: gangster capitalism, the looming resource wars and ‘regime change’.
What happens when you give gangsters access to new-killer weapons of mass distraction?
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August 10, 2008
I posted earlier today about my household’s boycott of the Olympics; the cats are down with that.
But, I am interested in news from China, particularly stuff that just won’t go away and continues to prove embarrassing to the regime.
I’m sorry for the family of Hugh McCutcheon, but this is insane.
Tragedy struck the New Zealand-born coach of the United States men’s Olympic volleyball team in Beijing when his father-in-law was murdered in an attack in Beijing.
Olympic murder attack survivor still critical
An Australian journalist was also attacked in a separate incident, but not hurt.
But wait there’s more;
Deadly explosions rock restive Chinese province
Threats, detention and KFC for protestors
And my favourite by the Herald reporter in Beijing, Paul Lewis.
A hotel in the city has been closed down and all the guests moved out because a pro-Tibet group held a protest there a couple of days ago. Good on you Paul, stay away from the stadia and give us more of this – the real story of Beijing 2008.
Beijing’s Hotel G has just become Hotel Gone – closed down by Chinese security, maybe for the period of the Games, maybe indefinitely.
Its crime: a room was used for a Free Tibet protest.
The abrupt closure shows how some people and businesses in China live on a knife edge even today, and also demonstrates how ingenious and stealthy dissidents have to be to avoid being “disappeared”.
Hotel’s last orders
Paul Lewis Beijing blog
March 16, 2008
I thought I’d keep readers up-to-date with the Blue Chip story from last week. I had a go at the Herald on Sunday for its front page piece about businessman Mark Bryers and his visits to an Auckland brothel.
I noted at the time that it would be interesting to see what the paper came up with this week. Well, it’s a much more detailed expose of some of Bryers’ and Blue Chips money trails. Much more like a good investigative piece; though still no allegations of criminal behaviour; just dodgy dealings and attempts to evade process servers.
And while I’m handing out some praise today, I thought the front page lead in Saturday’s NZ Herald about the difference in pay rates for New Zealand and Chinese flight attendants on Air New Zealand international services was great.
It had all the ingredients to make me really angry with Air New Zealand. It exposed their dreadful behaviour, one could almost suggest Air NZ is being racist in its dealings with Chinese staff. Of course the airline argues it’s contract is with a Chinese labour hire company and that the pay rates are about what the attendants would get in China – it’s all relative, the airline says. Read the rest of this entry »